BEGINNERS GUIDE TO THE BENEFITS OF AYURVEDA
By DR DEEPA APTE
Ayurveda is the ancient holistic medical system from India, based on achieving physical and mental harmony with nature, which has been practised for more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda means Science of Life: Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning science.
Ayurveda is a complete way of life. It is prevention-oriented, is free from harmful side-effects and treats the root cause of a disease rather than just the symptoms. Ayurveda views illness as caused by an imbalance in a person’s physical or mental constitution and therefore seeks gently to bring a person’s body back into a healthy balance. Ayurveda is not just for people who are ill but also for healthy individuals, because use of Ayurvedic techniques maintains good health.
Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda sees everything in the universe, including human beings, as composed of five basic elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These five elements in turn combine with each other to give rise to three bio-physical forces or Doshas: Vata (air & space), Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (water & earth). Every individual has within them all three bio-physical forces, but it is the dominance of any one or two or all three that makes up a person’s individual constitution.
Ayurveda says that we are all born with a basic body type called Prakriti. This is like our DNA imprint, our identity. It will always remain within us. But what we are today is called Vikriti and it is the result of all the influences around us, be it weather, foods, work, family and friends etc. The best way of comparing these two body types for each individual is that, Prakriti is like a hard surface – be it wooden, metal glass etc. It is solid and stable and doesn’t move or change. But today’s constitution or Vikriti is like a layer of dust on this surface. Ayurveda says it is our aim to get rid of this layer and get back to our original constitution because it is with Prakriti we are happiest and most at home and therefore will lead towards a longer and healthier life.
To be able to attain this balance Ayurveda talks about five approaches: Foods, Herbs, Massages, Yoga and Daily Routine. The foods chosen, or massages given, are classically based on their body type.
Benefits of Ayurvedic Approach
Anti-aging: The benefits of Ayurveda are innumerable but anti-aging is one of the most important. It’s not only about looking younger but also feeling younger and healthier from within. We have a common belief that anti-aging approaches commence at the age of 30 or 40. But Ayurveda says that as soon as a baby is born, the whole aging process commences therefore anti-aging begins as soon as an individual is born. The best way of anti aging is regular oil massages. Along with Panchakarma, the signature Ayurvedic cleansing procedures help towards a healthier, longer and balanced life
No Side effects: Ayurveda defines any medication or therapeutic substance that completely cures or corrects an imbalance without creating a new one. Ayurveda is known for having practically no negative side effects. As we use only natural approaches and remedies directly and easily available in nature, it goes with the natural systems of our bodies.
Helpful in chronic illnesses: Ayurveda is known for its positive results and effects for people suffering from chronic illnesses. It has been shown to help people suffering from conditions like asthma, eczema, psoriasis, thyroid conditions, skin ailments, digestive ailments etc.
Anti Stress Science: Ayurveda has been widely used in all stress related conditions with great results. Ayurveda looks at stress as an imbalance with dry-heat. Stress creates excess heat and dryness which may lead to further illnesses. Ayurveda uses some wonderful oil massage treatments like Shirodhara and Pinda Sveda to help reduce stress. It also uses foods, yoga, and breathing exercises to reduce stress.
Weight Loss: One of the best natural and holistic approaches towards weight loss is Ayurveda. All the five approaches including foods, herbs, massages, yoga and changes in life style can help towards gentle and yet very effective and permanent weight loss.
Along with the above Ayurveda is very helpful in Women’s Health, menstrual conditions, digestive ailments, immune conditions, skin ailments and is very safe for children too.
About the Author:
Dr Deepa Apté is a fully qualified Indian medical doctor (Bachelor of Medicine; Bachelor of Surgery, India), a qualified Yoga teacher and an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner. Winner of Outstanding Achievement Awards at CAMEXPO and APCTC Awards, she lectures widely on Ayurveda and Yoga. She is the founder of Ayurveda Pura Ltd including an Ayurvedic Health Spa, Academy and Holistic Essentials Range of Skin Care Products.